I do not recommend this book unless you like mob tales. I do not recommend this book unless you want to find interesting connections for future investigation. This book was recommended to me by an old Wall Street professional who retired and reads my blog. He thought the book would help round out the Russian '90s looting story. He was right, and he was right the book is a treasure trove of leads. Author Robert I. Friedman packs a lot of information and many interesting bits with shallow explorations of what was going on. You learn the basics, but it always feels like he could dig a bit deeper to get to the core. His sourcing is a bit weird, so grains of salt should be taken with some accusations. The funny thing though is the stream of admissions by the mobsters themselves. They love to explain how they got away with crimes. Friedman died in 2002, so he may have felt rushed to get the book done and out rather than follow some leads to their pot of gold ends.
There are huge pots of gold here. Between this book and Godfather of the Kremlin, one gets the feeling we are kept in the dark about the '90s Russian story because America was complicit, the Russian mob is heavily involved and it is horrendous. Random blogs have great collections of Russian billionaire stories. Marc Rich is mentioned multiple times as involved with arranging deals, and his pardon looks even worse today. Rich helped arrange different scams down in Africa to loot Africa of natural resourcs. Friedman even notes how mobsters made it to Clinton fundraisers and how VP Al Gore did not want to know the reality of who we were partnered with in Russia.
Nuggets of gold for further reading are everywhere. In Red Mafiya, a throwaway mention is how Mikhail Khodorkovsky owned a Mafia controlled bank. Friedman does not investigate into Khodorkovsky further but a lower associate who engaged in blatant mob activities. Wait, so why is America boosting Khodorkovsky now when we know he was mobbed up? Why is this hidden? Why was Anne Williamson's book suppressed and never printed? I have written about Russian looting before, but this book helped flesh out the mob angle.
If I were to map the Russian Looting '90s web out, here is how it appears:
1. Russia at the end of communism had a thriving black market that was dominated by the mafia. The Mafia "controlled" anywhere from 40-80% of the economy per different sources. This mafia was already aware of what government officials were corrupt since they had been bribing them for export licenses, fees and other things to carry out their criminal deeds and asset strip the country.
2. Russia's exporting of refuseniks and Jews through the decades to America and Israel created a multinational web of co-ethnics that engaged in black market, illegal activities.
3. Israel offered a sanctuary as it does not extradite its nationals and had little to no money laundering regulations.
4. The only Russians with capital in the early '90s to put things together were mobbed up individuals who happened to be Jewish.
5. These mobbed up individuals were open to aligning with the West culturally. (Hmmm, who controls Western culture?)
6. The US Treasury, Harvard and Wall Street wanted to turn Russia into an economic vassal. Asset stripping, bid rigging and insider deals were preferred.
7. Mobbed up Jews and the mob front banks they were connected to were a perfect native connection for looting and political control. The underdeveloped Russian financial world had limited points to play with, and they had little laws on the books for ownership or a tradition of ownership. The Russian-Jewish oligarchs did not care as long as they could rig the market and take their cut. It was the ultimate middleman minority role for the world's greatest middleman minority.
8. The US, the Russian Mob and the Jewish oligarchs all supported Yeltsin. Why? With him in control, administrators like Anatoly Chubais would keep rigging auctions and deals. The great looting machine could keep running for the West. Jewish oligarchs could keep control of local corporations and mountains of wealth. Berezovsky's political rivals (security state) did not support this.
9. Looting set up what seemed like a power nexus of money buying off the politicians, but also created such a concentration of wealth that it would be easy to pick off the leaders. The magnificent seven oligarchs put giant targets on their backs by placing so much control and profit in their tiny cabal.
10. Putin was installed as a compromise candidate between Berezovsky (pro-West) and Primakov (security state). In reality, Putin was the security state's revenge candidate to restore their control over Russia. Putin put an end to this looting machine, picked off the pro-West oligarchs, and isn't playing ball with the American empire. Therefore, in the eyes of the West, he must pay. He is the devil.
There is another giant pot of gold, and that is the immigration chicanery. Senator Chuck Schumer makes an appearance as someone who always brought suffering Jews to Brighton Beach. No one ever really evaluates if the immigration policies we have are not just ineffective but ripe for massive exploitation. In a weird twist of demographics, Russia has an incredibly small population of Jews (less than 1%), but Jewish Russian-Americans make up 16% of America's Russian population, and possibly as high as 25%. The cause of this oddity is the American Jewish community pulling in hundreds of thousands of Jews from the USSR from the '70s onward. How else was Masha Gessen getting here? No screening of these individuals, and priority was placed on saving the poor, oppressed Jews of the USSR from the evil empire. This is how Russia dumped criminal Jews on the US. Friedman very clearly writes how even the dissidents that became writers and respected individuals in America were mobbed up. We never change our screening, and America continues to take in more and more refugees and asylum seekers.
An interesting immigration "success" story is Felix Komarov. He was connected to the mob through his businesses, and the FBI believed he was a major money laundering figure for the Russian mob. Friedman writes of his connections to the mob and his work for them. Friedman notes details of the money and methods involved. Even the NY Times in the late '90s was writing about Komarov's shady business dealings. Where is he now? He gets awards and is recognized as a great figure, a great philanthropist, and a great lover of art. Senator Chuck Schumer did not send his regards because he was physically there to speak. These crooks even showed up at expensive presidential fundraisers. The pot of gold that should have been investigated in the '90s was the foreign donor shenanigans of the Clinton administration.
Israel is a weird but special place in all of this. Israel complies with American authorities, and one feels bad for them as the Russian and American co-ethnics abuse Israel. Israel's unique set up enables these mobsters, and one really understands why Jews love open borders so much. Without it, they cannot play the game of jumping back and forth from the homeland. Israel gives any Jew the right of return, plus Israel does not extradite nationals or care much to investigate financial crime. Israel becomes this hide-out or "safe space" where Jews can flee to after they loot different nations or companies. The Israelis hated this, and were angry at American Jews pulling Jews into America and away from Israel. It is not just Israel, because the other side has to be open as well for this to work. If other nations were far more strict about immigration, these unethical Jews would have to make a choice about where they lived and how they behaved.
When you read this book, there are really uncomfortable things that get thrown around, and notes would have been good for reference to filter what is documented and what is speculation. The arrests and who works for who are real. Some accusations seem just that, accusations. The frustrating thing is Friedman writing how the law enforcement agencies wanted to target the "Russian" mafia in America, but political pressure would force them to back off. Why? Oh, that reliable charge of anti-semitism. Did being Jewish give them extra protection? Let's read Friedman's words.
A large part of the problem was political: the Russian mob was predominantly Jewish. It was for that reason asserted Campanella and other New York State and federal law enforcement officials, that seven years after Campanella's two-man Russian mob unit in the NYPD was inaugurated, it was shut down in a highly politicized, characteristically New York City type of reaction. The effort had come under considerable criticism from the Jewish establishment, which complained that the adverse publicity generated in the hunt for Russian-Jewish criminals would foster anti-Semitism and jeopardize the continued emigration of Russian Jews to Israel and the WestThis is insane. What would it lead to? Another Shoah? Russian mob organizations were heavy Jewish Russian, and that co-ethnic cover in America allowed them to escape strike forces and slow down law enforcement for years. On what planet would Americans jump from being harsh on recent Russian-Jewish immigrants engaged in crime to setting up a Shoah of long time Jewish American citizens? Unless there was mass collusion between the two, this is just an example of Jewish privilege in America. Too bad the Italian Mafia did not think of this in the mid-20th Century. Is there another mob that received this type of protection? I cannot name one. An active investigation unit with only two cops was shut down.
There is other co-ethnic odd behavior with regards to law enforcement and politics. Robert Kaplan was solicitor general in charge of Canada's mounted police and Security Intellgience Service in the '80s. He was also a business partner of a Mr. Sigalov who was just a nice businessman who was being smeared. Sigalov also ran an international heroin and arms smuggling ring. There are congressmen and bureaucrats named who worked or canoodled with these crooks. Random politicians mix with these gangsters, get busted, and even some of them are reformed and get new jobs. Make sure you vote Democrat, men, it may save you a jail term.
The weirdest and worst political story of all might be the charges made by Lawrence Iorizzo who was Italian but part of the Italian-Russian gasoline tax scams that netted millions. He testified before Congress that the brother (Martin Carey) of the governor of New York (Hugh Carey) skimmed money from the scam and "illegally channeled it into the campaign treasury" of his brother. Martin received immunity to rat out someone else. The charges made by Iorizzo were never investigated. Later when a prosecutor wanted to open the door and investigate the accusations, "he was forced to resign by New York governor Mario Cuomo". Cuomo accused him of "spreading false and malicious stories", and go figure, Cuomo's campaigns received thousands from these same crooks.
This is not anti-semitism on Friedman's part. It's the unfortunate truth. If you read this book, you keep waiting for the slavs to come into the picture. Never happens. I read the entire book, and there were a couple of dodgy non-Jewish Russians but each Russian mobster was Jewish. Their quotes revel in their ability to bounce between America-Israel-Russia. They revel in taking advantage of the honest laws of America. Friedman lets them talk and reveal the unmentionables in modern discourse. This has made some reviewers on Amazon accuse Friedman of anti-semitism, which is rich since he is a Russian-American of Jewish descent. If anything, Friedman is playing the role of good Jew who dislikes the Jews that give Jews a bad name and create negative stereotypes. Checking his published works, this is a role he played often, and Friedman seems much like Philip Roth's protagonist in "Defender of the Faith".
This is something that is a problem within the Jewish community. The fight between taking advantage of every slight loophole for personal gain versus being a "good" person per the rules of the host country. The entire Wolf of Wall Street phenomenon reflects this as well, and causes some Jewish thinkers to pause and demand a conversation that Jews refuse to have. How can you enjoy amazing wealth, power and privilege while simultaneously carrying a chip on your shoulder forever about the slightest little things? When you read details here, there are MBAs, college graduates and other high IQ and competent men engaging in fraud and crime immediately upon arrival. The stock market manipulation attempts are wild but a symptom of an intelligent group with high verbal IQ going down a dark path. It is insane. Richard Nixon might sum it up best:
You know, it's a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana are Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob? What is the matter with them?The "what the hell is wrong with you people" Nixon idea is maybe the best, and most honest, description of the behavior of Jordan Belforts, Matt Weiners and Russian-Jew mobsters. These unethical, loophole seeking, and blatantly lying twerps never stop. Even when they grow up middle class, get degrees and have nice jobs. It's never enough.
It does not stop there, and it is not just money. Weiner is an example of a man retconning the past to serve contemporary interests. Noel Ignatiev was an anti-white academic coddled by Harvard. Barbara Spectre is an open borders fanatic for the West to the point where she might be evil incarnate. I could go on with many others in academia, media and Hollywood. The Jewish weakness for psychotic, extreme ideologies and their feelings of eternal insecurity are a dangerous mix. Placing this mix in positions of control in a mass media, a technologically "flat world" and with ever-increasing government involvement in basic human lives is a recipe for disaster.
Anne Williamson never had her Russia in the '90s book published. I am willing to bet Friedman and his publisher selected the title "Red Mafiya" because that was the only way the media would promote it and give it a platform. This is not a red mafia. The Slavic Russian mafia was not covered here, and does not operate as this web of mob bosses and crooks did. The web of connections here whether in Russia, America or Israel is between Jews. There was something special to these criminals, and Friedman knew how to tease out the story. He used their greatest strength and biggest weakness against them. They cannot pull off any swindle without telling someone just how brilliant they are for executing it.